Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Pre-War Session 5/1/2010

This is actually a hybrid of the aborted game from december, and last nights slug fest. It's a long one with a lot of story before a vicious fist fight in an inn! Awesome!

* * *

15:35 – The group arrive back at Ormid's home, and settle in for the night before their return to the tainted tunnels. However, in conversation that night, Veteran manages to persuade Ormid into repairing and reanimating the Iron Defender he recovered from their fight with the Esoteric Hunters beneath Garras'Knar, though this will almost drain the groups coffers and will take almost a week to complete.

19/1/50 – 24/1/50 (New storm clouds sweep in from the north and more snow falls. Temperatures plummet once more, and unnatural falls of ice begin to smash down in certain regions).

Ormid labours away over the Iron Defender, eventually returning the spark of life to it.

25/1/50

14:50 – Outside the college after making some last minute purchases of ritual components and supplies, Ormid, the Veteran (and his Iron Defender “Ferrous”) and Llewellyn overhear a huge man, swathed in furs, asking the guards where he can find “Professor Threfler” in a strangely accented voice that seems unused to speaking Trade.

14:55 – Bold as ever, Ormid introduces himself, and the huge man (an Ulnyrr tribesman from Cryaria), introduces himself as Theogred Son of Theogred. He asks if he can have a word with Ormid and “his most capable allies”, explaining that he is in the city as a recruiter for the “Grey Sea Offensive”; “A battle against the unnatural forces that are bringing this deep winter to our lands”.

14:46 – 16:30: The group agree, and accompany Theogred to a nearby inn “The Staying Inn”, where he explains more...

Much of what Theogred tells them is memorized speech, and he admits that he does not fully grasp it himself. However, he starts by asking them what they know about how the universes interact with one another. Ormid states he has a rudimentary grasp of this, explaining that the various dimensions float through the medium of the psychic or spirit plane, like streaks of ink in the water of an artists pot.

Theogred agrees, and asks him what he understands about how they interact. Ormid admits he knows only that as a general rule, the planes only interact when a link is deliberately forged through rituals or the powers of mighty beings, though he also recalls that from time to time dimensions can “crash” into each other.

Theogred agrees, and tells the group about so called “scourings”; the effects when a dimension “crashes” into the physical plane Arbel'Verdaniss occupies, causing problems. He explains how many great wars, plagues, cold snaps or heat waves can be linked to the unseen influence of another dimension occupying the same “dimensional space” as this plane, and reveals that this unnaturally cold weather is the result of such an event.

Theogred tells the group that almost six months before, a line of strange lights appeared over the icy waters of the Grey Sea, about 30 miles from the southern coast of Cryaria, and the Uln'Hülder; a major port city for the Ulnyrr at this point in history (this time pre-dates the taking of the Nephyzyr'Gigorim city of KardasThordim and its rebirth as the major trade port of Northmeet). Powerful waves of supernatural cold emanated from these and soon the sea around them began to freeze, creating a hazard for ships travelling the Northwinds Trade Route, and causing serious shifts in the weather patterns for hundreds of miles around.

Slowly, the lights began, after a week or so to fade, and all hoped that they would vanish altogether. However, the middle lights, a few days after this began to flare with a distant, icy radiance, and the cold intensified.

Theogred takes a long pull on his pint, and tells the group that “monsters came through” the lights shortly after, and that they had begun to build “great black pyramids” either side of the central light. However, a storm of terrible cold and power rose around the area, and as the peripheral lights (naturally occurring portals; rips where the physical plane and some other dimension had dragged against each other) dimmed and vanished, the baleful beacon of the middle light could be seen winking through the swirling snows, before they grew too dense to see through.

“So” , finishes the Ulnyrr, “an army is gathering on the frozen sea to seek out and drive back the monsters that have worked to keep this freezing portal open, and we are looking for capable heroes to assist them. You are one such group I have been sent to find and ask”.

Questions are asked and answers given;

“What do we get” - “1,000 gold, 500 up front”
“What kind of monsters came through the portals” - “Gigorim of some kind”
“Where do we sign up?”

The group are given a letter of marque, and are told to present it to any attendants of the Apporters Guild, whereupon they will open a doorway to the first muster point, in the grim northern port of Yorduil. The group take this, and thank the Ulnyrr. He raises his pint to them and wishes them all the blessings of Vletniir (The Ulnyrr aspect of Banturn'Vortax).

The group agree to do this the next morning...
18:00 – The guys return to Ormid's home and find Sadran and Ardwaine by the fire, sipping spicy mulled wine. Smite is apparently in the workshop.

18:05 – Not happy about his private workshop being entered by an individual he still – even after all these weeks – does not entirely trust, the artificer heads down there, and finds the monk simply standing in the main work area – though she drops into a defensive crouch as he approaches.

18:05-18:15 – Ormid and Smite talk. The little Warforged explains that she feels “out of place” after being re-awoken thousands and thousands of years after she was first created and operated. She states that she simply feels happier in a place like the workshop, that is somehow feels “right” to her.

18:17 – 19:00 - Ormid and Smite rejoin the rest of the group, and Smite is coaxed into talking about her past and her re-awakening by Ebon Eye. She is quite frank about her function during the Guild Wars as part of a specialist infiltration and sabotage unit for the Northern Guild, and her descriptions of events then trigger a wave of memories for the Veteran...

...Memories of the horrific battles along the slopes of the Streaked Mountains against the forces of the enemy guilds...of being left to hold the lines as grim undead and construct armies sought to attack the Eastern Guild...of being left by the Easterners as they enacted the powerful rituals that would take their guild “away” from the world and its wars...of being used as fodder...a diversion...a meat shield....a tool....

Veteran feels anger.

Smite talks about how she was awoken by Ebon Eye's artificers after being dug out of an ancient battlefield within the Clouded Hills, near to where the Neversea splits and the city of Spire. She talks of Ebon Eye's consuming thirst for revenge, and of the masses of troops he is slowly gathering.

More memories flood Veteran's mind – ancient sites of terrible battles...possibly rich pickings for future exploration...
Eventually, the group chat on other subjects. All are informed of the war on the frozen sea to the north, and all agree to go.

Then they head for an early night...

26/1/50 (Increasingly heavy snows driven by a powerful, lethally cold wind).

06:30 – Half asleep, and bundled in heavy cloaks against the cold, the group leave Ormid's home (he double, double locks the front door), and trudge through knee high snows towards the Apporter's Guild headquarters.

06:50 – 06:55 They arrive at the HQ, and are warmly welcomed by the attendants they rescued before. They present their letters of marque, and the portal to Yorduil is opened...

06:55 - ...to a crowded chamber within a temple dedicated to Banturn'Vortax; huge vaulted room which is illuminated by giant braziers upon which burn ceremonial incenses sacred to the church, smelling unsettlingly like freshly spilled blood.

A large number of Banturnite priests are within this hot and stuffy chamber, glaring at the new arrivals or muttering growling prayers to their dour, bloodthirsty God.

06:56 - A moment after the group arrive, they are approached by a heavily armoured dundorin (bushy black beard bearing clan Gnorrs, with dark eyes and a vivid scar across his forehead). He takes some details from them, and are asked who sent them. They are then directed towards an Inn named “The Forge”, located in the trade district, where they are to report to War Commander Ulthstaad; an Ulnyrr.

07:00 – 07:05 - In the main worship are of the temple in the level above the arrival chamber (which is dominated by a fearsome statue of Banturn'Vortax, covered in skins, shattered weapon, armour and items, and the polished and perfumed skulls of past enemies vanquished), a number of local merchants and artisans offer weapons, armour and magic for sale.

Ormid buys some shot and black powder for his Blunderbuss, then the group step out into the frozen streets of the Grim Tower City of Yorduil, filled with armoured and cloaked soldiers, despite the fact that the winds here are even colder than those in Lorehaven. To the north they can dimly make out (through the frozen mists and swirling snows) the hazy masts of distant ships and grey outlines of fortified weapon towers.

07:20 - They ask for directions and find “The Forge” quite easily; a large, solid building that bears three large chimneys from which pours smoke and sparks. A sign outside bears the picture of a glowing sword and shield, and another sign beneath proclaims (in tradespeak, dundorin, north republic and Ulnyrr) that all rooms are taken.

Many more soldiers mill around the front of the inn, some stamping their feet against the bitter cold, others gathered in small huddles, quietly discussing the coming battles.

07:22 - One of these men - a hulking Ulnyrr swathed in heavy white furs, who bears a broadsword covered in decorations and runes – mocks the party as they approach and tries to trip the mage up. A little sharp banter is exchanged by the Vyrleen, but there is no trouble.

The group enter the Inn...

07:23 - Inside, the taproom is packed with sweating, irritable warriors, and filled with tabac smoke and the smell of wet furs and unwashed feet. A crude, compacted line snakes around the tap room, leading to a number of points set up along the bar, each occupied by a sweating warrior. This is where the group need to sign up before they get their chits for their room, and gain further instructions.

07:30 – 07:35 - Llewellyn, hoping to jump the queue, clambers over Veteran and up into the taproom's rafters. He then monkeys his way towards the bar over the grumbling lines of warriors, and tries to get the official there to throw him some chits up. However, he is jeered by the irritable mercenaries waiting to be seen, and pelted with projectiles. He is also told, in no uncertain terms, to get down by the warrior behind the bar.

07:36 – 07:50 – Llewellyn, in that most dangerous of states (bored) begins to busy himself by pilfering money and trinkets from the pockets of the queueing mercenaries. At first he does well...but then he gets caught, and it is only thanks to the timely intervention of the Veteran that he is spared a sound beating or worse.

08:30 – the group eventually get to the bar, and are given a room chit for the Inn, and a number. They are directed towards another taproom, and told that they will be called (by their number) when they are to meet with War Commander Ulthstaag.

08:35 – 10:00 – The group wait in a crowded room, thick with tabac and blackgob smoke, dreamsmoke vapours and the stink of too many men crowded in too small a space. They drink a little to pass the time, and chat quietly amongst themselves.

Llewellyn manages to keep his fingers to himself for once!

10:00 – 10:15 The group are called to meet with the War Commander, in a suite on the second floor of the Inn.

The War Commander is a 48 year old Ulnyr; veteran of endless tribal battles, skirmishes with Nephyzyr'Gigori and clashes with pirates in the Grey Sea. He has long plaited grey hair worn in a topknot, and wears heavy hide armour, made from pelts of various monsters he has slain over the years. Bearing his mighty greataxe Drachefeind (Dracani's Foe), and his Giant Strength Girdle, he is an experienced and deadly warrior, and possible one of the largest men any of the group have ever seen.

Through a translator, he explains that at present a large force of soldiers is gathering on the frozen expanses of the Grey Sea, ready to march at a moments notice, whilst smaller camps have been established close to the edge of the storm, from which experts are trying to find a way of either scrying the portal or of shutting down the storm.

And this is where he turns to the group.

To Smite and Sadran: “You two are to be sent to the front lines, to join the hosts that will battle our half glimpsed foes when the storm falls. You will report to the Snow Raven host, and will fight well when the time comes”

To the rest of the group: “You are specialists, and your deeds in and around Lorehaven have been communicated to me. We need men and machines like yourselves to try and penetrate the storm and to try and make the way clear for the armies. You will be transported to Point Constant, and will report to Artifice Captain Ezloz, and make yourselves available for work at once. You leave tomorrow morning at 05:00 hours, on board a modified skyship named the Boreas Vox.

And with that, Ulthstaag dismisses them.

10:20 – 15:30 – The group engage in some gambling and drinking with the mercenaries at the Inn. Llewellyn gets the sharp end of a game of “Knifey Knifey” (he vomits as an emetic venom surges through his system), and Ormid and Llewellyn play “Two Dice Ante”; a dice version of pontoon that uses 2d6 and a limit of 30.

Money is won and lost (Llewellyn uses the money he swiped earlier today), and eventually, the group decide to head towards their rooms on the third floor...

15:40 – However.

On the first landing – which is crowded with drunk patrons, whores and mercenaries, the group encounter the barbarian from outside, still attended by a motley crew of swords for hire. As they move past, he trips up Sadran and pours his drink on him, making crude comments in his thickly accented voice about his parentage and weakness.

15:41 – 15:45 - Soon the fists are flying, and a HELL of a fracas ensues.

Luckily for the group everyone is pulling their punches, having no desire to kill and to face the consequences for murder (there are many flayed bodies frozen in cages around the streets and squares of Yorduil that speak of the cities thoughts on such crimes), for the mercenaries prove to be very able opponents.

The barbarian is an unholy terror of mad rage and unexpected sudden moves. He seems to simply shrug off blows that would down anyone else, and even pulling his punches breaks bones and bursts blood vessels. Another of the combatants is a warrior imbued with psychic powers, almost impossible to hold in place, and able to blast foes with waves of stunning force, to teleport those he strikes and to guide his allies attacks (he only gets taken down after making a serious mistake and getting trapped between the Dundorin and the Warforged).

By the end of the battle (which ends up as Ormid, Veteran and Ardwaine pounding on the barbarian), Llewellyn, Sadran and Ferrous are out for the count (they would have been dead in a full on battle). The last to fall is the barbarian, though it is as close a thing as the group has ever known...

As the last blow is smacked into him, he throws down his sword, and staggers, eyes wide, towards the veteran. For an instant it looks like he is going to attack him again, but instead he bursts out laughing, grabs him in a bear hug, and apologises for his rudeness and his lack of respect.

He helps Sadran to his feet (the combatants are coming round now, bloodied, battered but smiling), and introduces himself as Salvig Uuferduun; leader of “Salvig's Wolves”, a mercenary company headed north – a company he states would gladly assist the party (at a reasonable price of course) in any endeavor following the wars conclusion.

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